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Respect Has Many Faces
We've all heard the horrendous news that the much beloved Jason David Frank has passed away.
Best known for his iconic role in Power Rangers as Tommy Oliver and The Green Ranger, Jason brought his real-life martial art skills to our screens, blowing our minds with his dazzling performances since we were very first introduced to him in the 1993 episode 'Green with Evil'.
His untimely death has raised a hotly debated topic across many of the Funko Facebook groups:
Is it right to profit from Jason-related Funko sales after his death? Should these sales be temporarily banned in these groups?
As a kid growing up in the '90s, the Power Rangers is a symbol of my childhood, those preciously carefree moments in front of the tv, trying (and failing) to replicate Jason's moves, power blaster in hand.
He was a hero to many of us.
It's natural, when hearing such news, to be hit full force with nostalgia. Dimly lit childhood memories have a new spotlight shining brightly over them, once without a thought, now it's all we think about.
At least for the moment.
If there is ever a way to keep that spotlight burning, it's through collectible mementoes, those Funko-shaped shrines to our childhood.
Therefore it's no surprise that Jason-related collectibles rose sharply in value. Such a rise in demand is celebratory of the impact Jason had on many of us. At least that's my take on it.
In the few days prior to his death, only five Green Ranger Grail NFTs sold on AtomicHub for an average of $255. Since speculation started to filter through of his death, 13 were sold, peaking at a high of $398.30.
The reaction from Facebook groups was intriguing.
Some groups imposed an outright ban on selling items related to Jason, from a few days to a few weeks. The argument is that no one should profit from death, so sales are suspended as a show of respect.
Others, such as the newer NFT groups, that didn't have such policies had various active sell/buy posts. The comments turned into a sour sludge of virtue signalling, with the original posters being accused of profiting from death.
Those posters were labelled as 'vile', 'horrible' and called out for 'the kind of person they are'. Swift character assassination, all in the name of respect of course.
Is it about profit?
Collectors will absolutely sell during price hikes. They don't, however, drive the price increase.
It's ironic as cutting Facebook sales channels can only help the price rise. After all, demand that outstrips the pace of supply will always pressure prices to rise.
It's only when more willing sellers enter the market can the thirst of demand be quenched. It's important to emphasise this. Buyer demand drives the price up, not sellers. The more sellers in the pool, the more downward pressure is applied to the price.
Sellers enter a market when the perceived monetary value outstrips the perceived value of the item itself. That's not driven absolutely by profit. Some may not be able to justify holding onto an item that's now worth a week's wages.
The sale could be a lifeline to some during a cost-of-living crisis or it may be that they just don't value a Power Rangers Funko as highly as a new willing buyer. Neither are driven by profit.
I'm really not sure what a blanket sales ban achieves in a collector community, aside from pushing the demand into the more profit-centric eBay, Whatnot and Mercari? All whilst community-based sellers, which likely aren't keeping tabs on profit & loss, are forced into cold storage.
Is this respectful?
The most disappointing of all is the personal attack on posters.
Calling a stranger who is selling a Funko 'vile' does more damage than good. Or 'blame' a buyer who 'today of all days' wants to purchase a Funko. Surely that intended purchase is more celebratory of Jason's life than slamming someone for not being, in their eyes, respectful?
It's more alarming as, based on early reports, we have lost Jason to suicide. Depression isn't outwardly visible, we can't understate the harm that can come from nefarious comments, forcing people to reflect on their character because they wanted to simply buy/sell a Funko, doesn't sit well with me.
If anything, the spotlight should be firmly on mental health, not faux respect. We should be looking out for each other more than ever.
Respect has many faces
It's not a one-dimensional rule, it's not all or nothing and you certainly don't need to be a superfan.
Don't feel guilty if nostalgia has reignited that fire once again to get involved in collecting. We do gain from loss, that's Jason's legacy, a measure of the impact he had on so many.
Jason, thank you for the memories, you will be deeply missed.
Sweet Dreams, Tin Head.
Tommy Oliver (Green Ranger) - 1993 'Green With Evil'